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How to Create Complex Keepout Shapes

Keepout regions are easy to create in Altium Designer, but they can be complex. We’ll show you a few ways to make creating your more complex keepout shapes easier and more efficient.

Collaboration mechanism
Successful ECAD/MCAD Collaboration Practices

In this article Zachariah Peterson, founder of Northwest Engineering Solutions, discusses how his company successfully collaborates with mechanical engineers outside of his firm. He shares practices and tools that have been most useful along the way.

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How to work with Snippets
Schematic Design Reuse Using Snippets

Snippets allow you to easily reuse circuitry across multiple parts of your designs. We’ll show you how create a new snippets the Schematic and how to connect and annotate it so you can easily bring your circuitry directly into your board.

Copper rings
Must Have Rapid Prototyping Tools

Suppose your job involves rapidly iterating designs or creating a wide variety of products for clients. In that case, there are some essential tools available that can save you a tremendous amount of time, bringing high engineering risk devices to completion successfully. Whether you’re working on internal projects or developing high mix devices for clients as a consulting or freelance firm, these indispensable tools will help you ship a higher quality product in less time. 

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How To Work with High-Speed Projects
High-Speed Return Paths

For high speed designs it is critical to maintain your return path for adequate signal integrity. We’ll show you how, using best practices and error resolutions in Altium Designer.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Use a Courtyard Layer for the Component Boundary
How to Use a Courtyard Layer for the Component Boundary

In this video, you will see how to use the courtyard layer as a component boundary.

Best Practices for Sharing PCB Files vs. Sharing PCB Projects

Even though today’s cloud platforms are immaculately secure and they allow a range of files to be easily shared, there are times where you should limit the data you’re sharing to only the critical files required. For PCB designers, this means either sharing entire design projects or sharing individual files with your manufacturer, customers, contractors, or collaborators. If you want to eliminate liabilities and keep your team’s design data secure, consider these best practices for sharing PCB design data with Altium 365.

Webinar Preview
On-Demand Webinar
CoDesigner and MCAD Component Placement On-Demand Webinar

We design products not just PCBs requiring effective collaboration between MCAD and ECAD engineers. We need to consider how we can reduce the likelihood of errors when placing critical design components. Component placement in the context of enclosures can be easily handled in an MCAD environment while it is more difficult to achieve in the ECAD domain. Learn how to place components from the MCAD side and synchronize them with Altium Designer ECAD models, designators, and sourcing data to simplify your design process.

Principial Schematic
Best Practices for Using Reference Designs

Best component companies will release reference designs for their new and legacy products to show designers an example application for a component. If the reference design is good enough and it very nicely illustrates how to quickly engineer around a few main components, I’m likely to use them in the design and the component maker has just earned my business. If you’re a newer designer and you’re wondering whether reference designs are right for your next project, follow these best practices so that you don’t make any mistakes with your reference design.

Embedded thumbnail for What is the Draftsman Document?
How to Work with Draftsman
What is the Draftsman Document?

Once your PCB layout is finished it’s time for review. This is where the Draftsman Document and Altium Designer’s Draftsman Editor comes in.

Embedded thumbnail for High-Speed Features of Creating a Stack
How To Work with High-Speed Projects
High-Speed Features of Creating a Stack

The foundation of any high speed design is the layer stack. We’ll show you some of Altium Designer’s powerful layer stack creation features.

Traces on PCB
Transmission Line Fundamentals And Electromagnetic Fields, Part 1

When we deal with “abstract” aspects of electromagnetic fields and how they function, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds regarding them. The first part of this article will address an important aspect of transmission line fundamentals, namely how electromagnetic fields and waves propagate on a transmission line. This article’s end goal is to create a core understanding of these concepts so that when it comes time to design a PDS, the proper design methodologies are followed and a properly working PDS is achieved appropriately, the first time and every time.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Define an Impedance Profile for an Assymetric Stripeline
Impedance calculation
How to Define an Impedance Profile for an Assymetric Stripeline

This video shows how to define an impedance profile for an asymmetric stripline.

BGA pads
Your Complete Guide to Via Stub Analysis

Via stubs are sometimes viewed as an annoyance, especially when you only need to make a transition between adjacent layers. For low speed, less-dense boards with low layer count, via stubs are an afterthought, or they may not receive consideration at all. For faster edge rates/higher frequencies, the conventional wisdom is to remove all via stubs. The question is: what exactly counts as “high frequency,” and how do you figure out the relevant length?

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DFM and Fabrication Cost/Time Constraints
Solder Mask Expansion and Minimum Sliver

Using the solder mask expansion and the minimum solder mask sliver rules, you can make sure your solder mask layer doesn’t interfere with any of your exposed copper and is manufacturable.

Embedded thumbnail for Show the Net Connections Between Select Components
Show the Net Connections Between Select Components

This video demonstrates how to show net-specific component connections. This is helpful when routing as you’re able to reduce clutter and focus on the connections on which you are working.

Thermal camera on people
Using a Thermal Camera for PCB Diagnostics

Unlike the clumsy human finger, a thermal camera can detect minute temperature differences across its view. This allows you to rapidly identify any components that are consuming current. Any parts or areas of your board that draw current will also generate heat that can easily be picked up by a thermal camera.

Simple Simulation in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
SPICE Simulation Made Simple

SPICE simulation saves you critical time in the prototyping phase. Understanding your simulation interface makes it simple to analyze how your circuits work in different scenarios. Altium Designer provides an intuitive, dedicated interface to support your simulation verification, setup, and analysis directly in your schematic environment. You also benefit from growing support for popular model formats, as well as generic models, simplifying circuit definition and simulation.

Soldering station
Complete Guide to DIY SMT Assembly In Your Office

I want to share a little secret with you in this article: Assembling SMT prototypes boards is not only easy, but it requires very little equipment. Using just a stencil, I can easily hand prototype down to 0.3 mm pitch ICs, and 0201 (imperial) sized passive components.  If you’re currently hand assembling boards with a soldering station, you need to stop this immediately and start using a stencil instead!

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How To Work with High-Speed Projects
High-Speed Tuning

If you use high-speed interfaces like USB 3.0, PCIE, or DDR3/DDR4, you need to use match length tuning to ensure that they work properly. We’ll show you why and how, as well as demonstrating the different tools for length tuning.